I love Soberistas. If you've never come across it, here's a link.
In my early days I spent about two hours a day reading Soberistas. It made me feel like I was not alone. The members helped me with my random questions, like is it normal to have terrible constipation when you quit drinking? (Answer: yes, totally). Soberistas was also my favourite distraction activity at wine o'clock.
I spend less time on Soberistas now, but I still dip in three or four times a week, and it's a great reminder of how hard those early days can be. How confusing. How angst ridden. It reminds me how far I've come, and how little I want to return there.
Every now and again I read a post from someone who's just taken the plunge, and I'm vividly reminded of myself. Like looking back at an old photo album (does anyone do those anymore?). Then I beg them to read Jason Vale (my hero), and post the link to this blog, hoping that they'll find me, and find me helpful in some way.
Anyhow, today it's all kicked off at Soberistas, as it does from time to time. Usually, Lucy Rocca (the founder) ends up wading in and saying something along the lines of "now, now ladies. We are all friends here. This is an accepting and non judgemental place. Calm down," like a kind but stern sixth form tutor.
Today's spat is about day counting. One of the members posted a punchy piece arguing that if you 'slip up' on the sober journey you have to re-set the day counter to 1. It's not ok to say, for example (and I quote) 'I am 1 year sober - minus 3 blips, 4 slips and a couple of shirt buttons'..... (Here's the full post).
Most posts on Soberistas get around five or six comments. A really good one might get about twenty. This post, in the last 14 hours, has had eighty-nine comments.
I've posted on day counting before (see Potholes in the Road). I used to count days avidly myself. If felt like a crucial marker, charting progress. Then I got to 4 months sober, and the individual days just didn't seem to matter any more. Now I count months (and that really is progress). I hope that one day I'll be counting years.
I read all the comments on the controversial post. Several things struck me.
Firstly, there are strong opinions on both sides of this debate. For some people the day count is sacrosanct, and the fear of going back to day 1 is partly what keeps them on the straight and narrow.
For others, it seems terribly unfair to suggest that a short 'blip,' after several weeks or months of sobriety, should negate all the good work done. Better just to pick yourself up, dust yourself off and keep going.
My view? I think we should all do whatever works for us. The crucial thing is to get there in the end, with whatever help, props, or large slices of cake we require. We all have to learn the lessons for ourselves. We all have to go through it.
No-one can convince you, for example, that moderation is impossible. You have to work that one out on your own..... (often again and again and again).
The second thing I was reminded of by reading the comments is how terrified we all are of being judged. For us drinkers, the fear of judgement is one huge trigger.
We drank because we felt judged. We were judged because we drank. Terrible vicious circle. One thing we have to get used to when we quit is to drop this fear. The truth is that most people are far too wrapped up in their own lives to give a hoot about yours....
The third thing I realised, reading all the comments urging acceptance and peace, is how much we all hate conflict. Certainly I did. The slightest hint of conflict - even with my own children - and I'd reach for the bottle. Uh oh, all getting a little tense around here....better have a drink.
Funnily enough, we'd drink to avoid conflict and then, a few drinks down and BAM, uncontrollable rage. Suddenly you're chucking a mug at the husband because he's not helping you with the dishwasher! (see my post on Alcohol Induced Rage).
So, Laura, if you're reading this, I hope you're not worried about the s**tstorm! You've made people think, and you've distracted them from the Wine Witch. So well done you, and well done everyone, however you count, or don't count, your days....
Love SM x